Massey University publishes latest National Security Journal

New Zealand Security Magazine - August-September 2020

Professor Rouben Azizian
Professor Rouben Azizian, Head of the Massey University Centre for Defence and Security Studies.

In this abridged ‘Comment from the Editors’, Professor Rouben Azizian and Dr John Battersby provide a brief introduction to the just-published second instalment of the National Security Journal.

The successful launch of the National Security Journal last year was not without doubts about its sustainability in the highly competitive academic journal market and its relevance for the broad audience of security analysts, practitioners and students.

The feedback that we have received so far, from across the government sector in New Zealand and from around the globe, confirms that our readers see the benefit of this synergy of diverse and inclusive expertise and ideas. 

This issue, like the one before, offers perspectives on a wide range of security issues. Reuben Steff’s article provides an in-depth analysis of the North Korean problem, explaining the historical context to the current situation on the Korean peninsula and, importantly, the motives driving the North Korean position. This insight is useful and timely.

Carl Bradley’s article looks at New Zealand’s gangs from a broad cultural perspective. Gang numbers in this country have been increasing in recent times, boosted by deportations from Australia who arrive here with established Australian underworld connections. Bradley argues that “increased economic inequality will see gang membership continue to rise” and moves by some groups to position themselves to further control illicit, and perhaps certain licit, commodities. 

The socio-economic driver for gang membership is important for the New Zealand government to take note of, as COVID-19 leaves the country’s economy with high unemployment, high costs of living, a continuing housing crisis, and increasing gang recruitment in prisons.

Holly Vandenberg and Wil Hoverd discuss the use (and misuse) of the terms ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’, comparing the use of these terms before and after the 15 March 2019 attacks in Christchurch. The authors argue there is an inconsistency in the use of the terms which indicates confusion and directly influences government and security agencies, as well as the media and general population. 

Olivia Cleaver and Germana Nicklin’s article on the use of ‘false personas’ in social media intelligence collection discusses the ambiguity of private information on publicly available social media systems. There is social license to use these systems in intelligence collection, but the authors shed light on an area which has so far defied legislators’ abilities to clarify the public interest, the right to privacy, and appropriateness of covert use of this information. 

John Battersby, Rhys Ball and Nick Nelson challenge New Zealand’s recently published “Countering terrorism and violent extremism national strategy” as not hitting the mark that it should. The authors take readers briefly over what a strategy should be, then review the practice of the Five Eyes partner nations and their CT strategy documents. 

Overall, it is contended that New Zealand’s strategy is all too brief and compares unfavourably with more comprehensive and explained strategies of our security partners. The broader formation, background research and compilation of strategy documents is an area where academics and practitioners could work much more closely together.

Finally, National Security Journal is privileged to have Yevgeny Zvedre’s article on space weaponisation – a Russian perspective. The implications of a space arms race are alarming, and the author’s call for increased diplomatic initiatives to keep space free of weapons is genuine, urgent and well made.

Read the Journal online at

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